Commercials. They’re the best part of the whole TV experience, right? And now, Sony wants to make that experience even more exciting, as a recently approved patent application reveals.
The essence of Sony’s idea here is to explore ways to make advertising more interactive. Like most of the television viewing experience, watching advertisements is a static, passive process – we sit, we watch, we listen, as the TV tells us what to love, what to want, what to buy.
But the hope is that by making ads more of a participatory process, viewers will become more engaged and establish more of a connection with what’s on our screens. In the image below, taken from the US Patent & Trademark Office filings, the viewer’s enjoyment of his favourite show is savagely interrupted by the appearance of a giant burger on screen.
Desperate to return to… err, whatever program that is, the viewer leaps to his feet, waves his hands in the air like he just doesn’t care, and shouts “McDonalds!” at the TV. The TV, recognising that the viewer has humiliated himself to an appropriate degree, responds by permitting the viewer to watch a few more precious moments of content before, presumably, repeating the process.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sony’s patent application gives it room to require other interactions, beyond merely calling out a brand name. By tapping into the capabilities of PlayStation peripherals such as the EyeToy or Move, viewers could be required to ‘shoot’ a target on screen, for example, or ‘drive’ the car that’s being advertised in the ad. In this example, the TV demands that you “throw pickle in burger to speed up commercial”.
The thinking behind the idea is simple: you may think that you're dismissing the commercial or the brand, but by consciously acting to dismiss it, a subconscious link between you and the product is still being created. By playing the 'Make It Your Way' pickle game, the seed of a thought is implanted deep in your brain that could just trigger an impulse to buy the next time you're hungry and passing a Burger King.
So, welcome to the future of TV. But before you go nuts at Sony, remember that Microsoft has already stated its own intentions in this space – its NUads initiative seeks to harness the Xbox 360 and Kinect to create interactive promo spots which, in the words of Saatchi & Saatchi’s John Lisko, “allows customers to participate with our advertising, which is really exciting”. Depends on your definition of exciting, I guess.
Now, SHOUT “NEOWIN” AND SPIN YOUR LEGS WILDLY IN THE AIR TO END THIS ARTICLE.